Reed intends to play next season, but will it be with Ravens?

January 24, 2013 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It would appear to be the picturesque ending to a Hall of Fame career for Ed Reed by playing in his home state of Louisiana in his first Super Bowl, but the Ravens free safety revealed he plans to play next season when asked about his future on Thursday.

The 34-year-old was asked whether he would join retiring teammate Ray Lewis on his “last ride” following Super Bowl XLVII, but Reed evaded the question the first time before later admitting he planned to play in 2013.

“No, it’s not my last ride. I just bought a bike not that long ago,” said Reed, drawing laughs from the gathered media in Owings Mills.

Many have speculated that Reed would potentially retire should the Ravens win their second championship in franchise history as the 11th-year safety makes his first appearance on the biggest stage the NFL has to offer. Part of that speculation may be driven by nostalgia as Reed plays out the final days of a six-year contract that paid him a $7.2 million base salary during the 2012 season.

Reed and general manager Ozzie Newsome haven’t negotiated or discussed terms for a new contract since before the 2011 season, and it appears the Ravens’ interest in bringing the nine-time Pro Bowl safety is lukewarm at best — at least if that return is attached to a significant dollar amount. The defensive back has hinted about his desire for a new contract over the last few offseasons while simultaneously hinting at potential retirement. Meanwhile, his once dynamic play has declined over the last couple seasons as his tackling ability has diminished greatly and he is unable to cover as much ground in the defensive backfield.

He has played the last five seasons with a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder and had hip surgery following the 2009 season. Reed revealed earlier this season that he had a torn labrum in his shoulder, which prompted the NFL to fine the Ravens $20,000 for failing to list the safety on their injury report.

Reed finished with four interceptions and 58 tackles this season, but the veteran has only two pass breakups without an interception in three postseason games.

A Super Bowl championship and walking away from the game at the same time as his longtime teammate Lewis would seem to be the perfect ending to a brilliant career, but Reed has always moved to the beat of his own drum in matters such as these.

“I’ll be playing next year if that’s what you all are asking,” Reed said. “Next question.”

Given his uneven comments in past offseasons, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Reed changed his mind and announced his retirement following the Super Bowl if he has the opportunity to raise the Lombardi Trophy, but the next question will be where Reed is playing next year if he follows through on his intention to return.

A tight salary cap and a realistic assessment of Reed’s current play might persuade the Ravens to move in another direction.

Do you expect Ed Reed to return to the Ravens next season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below…